Monthly Archives: January 2013

GovernmentProposed Bill Protects Pets of Domestic Abuse Victims

State Sen. Mike Fasano’s bill was inspired by a dog that took punches and kicks to protect his elderly owner from abuse.

A visit from a goggle-wearing dog with a dent in its head is the inspiration for a bill working its way through the state Senate. The dog had been beaten while trying to protect its elderly owner from an abusive son.

The proposed law by state Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, extends legal protection to pets of an abuse victim and makes beating or abusing the victim’s pet grounds for violating a court-ordered domestic violence injunction. It also would make abusing a pet covered under an injunction a crime.

The reason is that many abusers use the victim’s pet as a pawn or use the animal as another target for torment, said Greg Giordano, chief legislative aide for Fasano. The abuser can use threats to the animal as another tool to manipulate a victim.

“They use the animals for control,” Giordano said.

The measure was prompted by the dog that in 2005 was savagely beaten as he would sprawl over his owner’s body trying to protect her from her son, according to later newspaper accounts.

The woman’s son also threatened the dog if she didn’t comply with his wishes.

The beatings created an indentation in the dog’s skull and damaged nerves in his eyes that leave him with a sensitivity to light, requiring goggles for protection.

Now named Little Horatio, the dog doesn’t need the goggles as often as he used to, said Kathy Cornwell, the New Port Richey woman who adopted the Catahoula Leopard and gave him a new name along with a new home.

“If it’s very sunny, we’ll put the goggles on him,” she said. “He doesn’t like them but he’ll always have the nerve damage.”

Horatio is now about 8 years old and still shows some signs of his former life, said Cornwell, who, as Pasco County’s victim’s advocate for the Area Agency on Aging of Pasco and Pinellas, has seen plenty of abuse cases. He still gets nervous if left alone in a room for any length of time.

His first night in their home revealed how Horatio used to live and what the dog did to protect his owner.

“We put him next to the bed, and when my husband came in, he jumped up and covered my entire body even though he was shaking all over,” Cornwell said. “It took about a year to rehabilitate him.”

Fasano’s bill also adds a layer of legal protection for abuse victims and their pets by giving the person seeking a domestic violence injunction ownership of the pet.

“It gives the victim the ability to ask for control of the pet,” Giordano said.

That’s a large help in domestic violence cases when pets are pawns in the abuse, according to Cornwell.

A court order might force an abuser from the home but there was no way the victim could keep him or her from taking the pet, almost as a hostage, she said.

“I think it’s very important. I’ve seen too many people whose animals were taken and killed by the abuser,” she said.

This is the second try for Fasano’s proposal, SB 288 that ran out of time last session, Giordano said.

Horatio seems to have recovered from his earlier mistreatment, Giordano said.

“You’d think a dog like that would be really scared of people but he wasn’t,” he said.

Little Horatio, and not so little at about 75 pounds, still makes public appearances and Cornwell, along with Jane Occhiolini, a former victim’s advocate for the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office, give classes and talks about domestic abuse with Horatio.

Anyone interested can contact Cornwell through the Agency on Aging at 727-570-9696.

By Neil Johnson

Tracking a Subtle Scent, a Dog May Help Save the Whales

OFF THE COAST OF SAN JUAN ISLAND, Wash. — A dog named Tucker with a thumping tail and a mysterious past as a stray on the streets of Seattle has become an unexpected star in the realm of canine-assisted science. He is the world’s only working dog, marine biologists say, able to find and track the scent of orca scat, or feces, in open ocean water — up to a mile away, in the smallest of specks.       

Through dint of hard work and obsession with an orange ball on a rope, which he gets to play with as a reward after a successful search on the water, Tucker is an ace in finding something that most people, and perhaps most dogs, would just as soon avoid. And it is not easy. Scat can sink or disperse in 30 minutes or less. But it is crucial in monitoring the health of the whales here, an endangered group that is probably among the most studied animal populations in the world. Most of the 85 or so orcas, or killer whales, that frequent the San Juans, about two hours northwest of Seattle, have been genotyped and tracked for decades, down to their birth years and number of offspring.

And none of this could happen as easily as it does without Tucker and his wet, black nose — or the new tricks that he taught the scientists. “Sometimes he’d just turn around and sit down and stare at me, waiting for me to figure it out,” said Deborah A. Giles, who is completing a Ph.D. on how orcas here are affected by the thousands of whale watchers and scores of commercial whale-watch vessels that cluster around the animals. “He’s very subtle,” said Ms. Giles, sitting behind the wheel of the research vessel Moja as Tucker, an 8-year-old black Lab mix, paced at the prow on a recent afternoon.
One thing to get out of the way quickly: orca scat really does not smell that bad. Perhaps because the animals eat mostly Chinook salmon — the tastiest kind, many human seafood lovers agree — the scent is more fish than foul. But unlike, say, a narcotics-sniffing dog that can lead its human around by a leash, the research boat itself is, in effect, Tucker’s legs when he has picked up the aroma. He cannot physically go where the sample is to be found, but must somehow signal where he wants the boat to go, with the feces somewhere out there on the water.
Like a Delphic oracle whose every nuanced expression must be interpreted by acolytes — Tucker might lean to one side of the boat, then another, then suddenly sink back onto his green mat with his head between his paws, the scent lost — his nose for scat leads on, and all must follow. “The slightest twitch of his ear is important,” said Elizabeth Seely, a trainer who has worked with Tucker for four years at a nonprofit group called the Conservation Canines, which specializes in dog-assisted research on behalf of endangered species. She stood at his side on a recent scat-search session, signaling to Ms. Giles behind the wheel with tiny finger motions — a bit to the right, a bit more to the left, circle back — that Tucker was suggesting by his posture and level of attention.
Out on these waters, though, it seems that every creature is learning new tricks. Salmon have taken to hiding under commercial whale-watch boats when they are being hunted by the orcas. The boats, in turn, are filled with people — upward of 500,000 during the peak season from May to October — who have paid to see whales and who in many cases, boat operators and scientists say, return home wanting somehow to help the animals. Whale-loving visitors in turn reinforce a local economic engine that hinges more and more on having whales to see.
The whales are becoming, in a strange way, more in sync with the rhythms of their human watchers — resting less during daylight and more at night than they used to in the 1980s or ’90s. As part of her dissertation at the University of California, Davis, Ms. Giles is examining reduced prey availability and increased vessel presence as potential causes.
For Tucker, though, it mostly comes down to his ball toy, which he plays with in exuberant, wild abandon, tossing it into the air and staging crouched bouts of tug of war with Ms. Seely. When a fecal sample is found, the researchers carry it toward him and then substitute the ball at the last second, reinforcing the connection between work and reward.
Another scat dog in training, a flat-coated retriever named Sadie, was donated to the program by an owner who could not deal with her ball fixation. In frustration, the owner put Sadie’s ball on top of the fridge. Eight hours or so later, she returned and found Sadie still sitting there, staring up at the object of her desires. “When the owner told me that story, my immediate response was, ‘We’ll take her,’ ” said Prof. Samuel K. Wasser, the director of the Center for Conservation Biology at the University of Washington and the director of the orca scat research project.
The research, financed by Washington Sea Grant of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is raising new questions about how to protect the orcas. Professor Wasser said that when he started the project four years ago, he thought boat activity would be a crucial element of whale stress, reflected through stress hormones in their scat. But it turned out, he said, that food supply was more important, with fewer salmon — because of overfishing by humans or habitat degradation or both — emerging as a main stress variable. Knowing to focus on fish supply, he said, means knowing where to focus public policy efforts on the animals’ behalf.
Through the scat, biologists can tell, for example, which whale pods spend the winter off the coast of Southern California, because their feces can contain higher trace elements of DDT, the pesticide that was banned in 1972. The poison still echoes through the decades in the fish the whales eat before returning north. Other orca groups have concentrations of dioxins or PCBs traced to industrial activity around Seattle.
But for all his hundreds of hours on boats, Tucker will not get wet. He hates to swim, Ms. Seely said. She is not sure why. A trauma from puppyhood, she supposes. It is one thing about which he cannot communicate.

The New York Times

A Cancer Patient’s Best Friend

When I was growing up, my dream was to one day become a veterinarian. In fourth and fifth grade, I volunteered every day after school at a veterinarian’s clinic. I didn’t view it as an “internship” — in my mind, I was apprenticing for a certain future in the field. When I was 10, I asked for an incubator for Christmas. By spring, I was carting around a dozen baby chicks in my purple doll stroller. In middle school I walked dogs at the local animal shelter. But as I got older, there was college, summer travel, then my first real job, at a law firm in France. I was entering the “real world,” as they say in commencement speeches. And there was no room in my adult life for a dog.

Then, a year and a half ago, came my cancer diagnosis, and with it the return home. I found myself pleading with my parents for a puppy, just as I’d done as a child. But I knew the medical reality: My weakened immune system, the result of chemotherapy, made getting a dog impossible. My doctors didn’t even think twice about rejecting the prospect, though I still made it a point of asking every few months.

In early September, I was shocked when I received a voice mail message from one of the nurses in the bone marrow transplant clinic. Instead of rescheduling an appointment or changing the dosage of one of my medications, she had dog-related news: My doctors had decided to give me the green light on adopting a furry friend. In fact, they encouraged it. My immune system was stronger — not as strong as it could be, but relatively strong for a patient in the first six months after transplant. And caring for a pet, my doctors told me, might even be therapeutic. As a cancer patient, I’m always being prescribed medicine. But I never thought I’d get a prescription for a puppy.

I didn’t waste much time. The same day I headed with my boyfriend, Seamus, to Animal Haven, a rescue animal organization in Lower Manhattan. As we skimmed their selection of dogs, I began to feel overwhelmed. There were big dogs and small ones, old and young. How could I pick my future companion as if I were shopping for shoes in a catalog? But when I saw Schnoodle, a 9-week-old miniature schnauzer and toy poodle mix with big brown eyes, floppy puppy ears and soft white fur, I couldn’t resist. I didn’t need to see any other dogs. I knew I had to bring him home. In the cab ride home, “Schnoodle” became “Oscar,” named after my favorite writer, Oscar Wilde, and Seamus’s favorite basketball player, Oscar Robertson.

I’m giddy these days since Oscar came into my life. Caring for a pet is a welcome distraction from the day-to-day reality of being a cancer patient. I’m not sure what it is about puppies, but holding Oscar instantly makes me feel better. I’ve had him for only 13 days, but my new favorite pastime is to watch him sleep, his tiny black paws twitching as he chases rabbits in his puppy dreams. The warmth of his little body and the steady beat of his heart against my chest distract me from my anxiety. He brings me instantly to the present.

In the short time Oscar has been in my life, he’s had an effect on my relationships. Rather than staring at my bald head, passers-by stop to play with Oscar and to tell me how cute he is. The other tenants in my building now say hello to my dog before greeting me. And instead of discussing my symptoms and treatment plan for the week, my boyfriend and I have been spending more time focused on puppy playtime, going on long walks in the park and taking Oscar to his obedience classes. It’s nice not to be the center of attention for a change.

But the reality is that I am a cancer patient. I have to take extra health precautions, like wearing gloves when I clean up after him and washing my hands thoroughly. It’s work, but I enjoy the structure, something cancer patients often lack. I share responsibility for Oscar with my boyfriend, which allows me to rest when I need to.

For now, I’m in a tenuous type of remission reserved for “high risk” leukemia patients in the first year after transplant. I still feel anxious at each appointment, as I wait to hear that the previous week’s test results are all right. I still take medicine (23 pills a day, by my last count). I still have my weekly appointments at the hospital. And every three weeks, I do a five-day course of preventive chemotherapy.

But it’s a sign of my progress that I’m allowed to be around a dog at all. My immune system is getting stronger, my doctors tell me. Oscar can’t change what’s going on in my bone marrow. But I can feel that he’s already working magic.

The New York Times

Milo’s Kitchen® Voluntarily Recalls Chicken Jerky And Chicken Grillers Home-Style Dog Treats


SAN FRANSCISCO, Jan. 9, 2013/PRNewswire/– Milo’s Kitchen today announced that it is voluntarily recalling its Chicken Jerky and Chicken grillers home-style dog treats from retailer shelves nationally.  No other Milo’s Kitchen products are affected.

On Monday, New York State’s Department od Agriculture informed the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Company that trace amounts of residual antibiotics had been found in several lots of Milo’s Kitchen Chicken Jerky.  After consultation with the New york Department of Agriculture and FDA, the company decided to voluntarily recall Milo’s Kitchen Chicken Jerky and Chicken Grillers, which are both sourced from the same chicken suppliers.

The use of antibiotics to keep chickens healthy and disease-free while raising them is standard practice in poultry production for both human and pet food.  However, the antibiotics found in the products were unapproved and should not be found in the final food product. 

Milo’s Litchen has a comprehensive safety testing program in place for its products from procurement through manufacturing and distribution.  Part of that program involves extensive testing for a wide range of substances commonly used to ensure the health of chickens.  However, Milo’s Kitchen did not test for all the specific antibiotics found by the New york Department of Agriculture.

“Pet safety and confidence in our products are our top priorities, ”  said Rob Leibowitz, general manager, Pet Products.  “While there is no known health risk, the presence of even trace amounts of these antibiotics does not meet our high quality standards.  Therefore, today we decided to recall both products and asked retailers to remove the products from their shelves.”

“Consumers who discard the treats will receive a full refund,”  said Leibowitz.  “We are committed to Milo’s Kitchen and stand by our gaurantee of complete consumer satisfaction.”

Consumers with questions about Milo’s kitchen products can get further information at 1-877-228-6493

Nestlé Purina PetCare Company to voluntarily withdraw Waggin’ Train®

St. Louis, Missouri, January 9, 2013 . . . Nestlé Purina PetCare Company and its wholly owned subsidiary Waggin’ Train, LLC today announced it is voluntarily withdrawing its Waggin’ Train and Canyon Creek Ranch brand dog treats sold in the United States until further notice.

The Company is taking this action after learning this week that the New York State Department of Agriculture & Markets (NYSDAM) found trace amounts of antibiotic residue in samples of Waggin’ Train and Canyon Creek Ranch chicken jerky products. These antibiotics are approved for use in poultry in China and other major countries, including European Union member states, but are not among those approved in the U.S. Antibiotics are commonly used globally, including in the United States, when raising animals fit for human consumption. Waggin’ Train and Canyon Creek Ranch products are safe to feed as directed. However, due to regulatory inconsistencies among countries, the presence of antibiotic residue is technically considered an adulteration in the United States. This finding does not pose a safety risk to pets.

New York State authorities initially requested that the Company remove Waggin’ Train and Canyon Creek Ranch chicken jerky treats from retail locations in the state of New York, which we have agreed to do. In addition, because of the differences in U.S. and Chinese regulations, Nestlé Purina decided to conduct a nationwide voluntary withdrawal.

“All of us at Waggin’ Train care deeply about pets and their owners, and the quality of our products is of the utmost importance,” said Nina Leigh Krueger, President, Waggin’ Train LLC. “Waggin’ Train has served millions of pets and their owners very well. In the final analysis, our Company and our loyal consumers must have total confidence in the products we sell and feed our pets. Once we understand and determine how to comply with the technicalities of different regulatory frameworks, we will work with all appropriate parties to define the best way to supply the market.”

Nestlé Purina contacted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regarding NYSDAM’s findings. There is no indication that the trace amounts of antibiotic residue are linked to the FDA’s ongoing investigation of chicken jerky products. The trace amounts of antibiotic residue (in the parts-per-billion range) do not pose a health or pet safety risk.

No other Purina treats or pet food products are affected by this withdrawal. In addition, Canyon Creek Ranch dog and cat foods, which are manufactured in the United States, are not included in this withdrawal.

For product refund or more information call our Office of Consumer Affairs at 1-800-982-0704 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 1-800-982-0704 end_of_the_skype_highlighting or go to

Brain Games

As pets age, their mental abilities may dull and behavior may change. To keep mental reflexes sharp, constantly provide your older pet with new experiences. Add a food puzzle, teach a new trick, take a trip to a different dog park or enroll in therapy pet classes. Rotate toys by packing old ones out of sight and offering a “new” one every two to three days. Too often we humans fall into habits that cease to stimulate our brains. Even a simple change such as reversing your normal walking route can provide freshness to an otherwise stale routine. As often as possible, ask yourself, “How can I make this more fun or interesting?”

Fetch Spring/Summer 2010